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People protest PTS takeover

Marchers stand against Kuomintang

An estimated 3,000 people marked the New Year with a protest march Thursday concerning political interference in Taiwan’s public TV service.

The protesters claim that the Kuomintang, the territory’s ruling nationalist party, is effectively taking over PTS, which operates five free to air channels and a number of specialty digital nets. PTS also wants the unblocking of NT$450 million ($13.8 million) of state funding, which has been frozen for the past month.

Marchers, who included PTS chairman Cheng Tung-liao and its prexy Feng Hsien-hsien, gathered around the parliament building and lay on the ground to form human dominoes. Earlier 150,000 members of the public had signed a petition on the PTS website.

Groups such as the Assn. of Taiwan Journalists and Media Watch, have repeatedly condemned Kuomintang proposals that would give government departments the right to vet PTS budgets and get involved with PTS programming. Government has criticized PTS talksshows as being biased in favor of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.

The Kuomintang has also put forward a plan that would increase from 16 to 21 its seats on the PTS board.

Claims of government interference in media are not limited to PTS. Intl. interest group Reporters Without Borders has criticized recent moves to appoint Kuomintang-friendly officials at Radio Taiwan Intl. and at the Central News Agency, Taiwan’s biggest news service.

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